Monday, 19 December 2011

Roberta Gosling, and a trip to Lincoln

On Friday 28th October, my sister Katy gave birth to a little girl, whom she and Dan have named Roberta Richold Gosling. On Saturday 12th November, we all went and visited them.
Tom first in the queue to hold Roberta!
Uncle Dan teaching some guitar.
We all went for a walk into Lincoln, round the old and lovely streets. Amy and Lucy looking at the Cathedral.
We had a wander round one of the museums.
The kids and Amy...
Back at Katy and Dan's, we made tea (after chess...), then headed home. It was a lovely day spending time together, and meeting Roberta, who is super!

End of Oct / Beginning of Nov

The Bleakleys came to collect Abi on Wednesday 26th, and stayed for tea. We were on the second day of having our boiler replaced, but luckily it was quite mild.
Scott took the next day off work, and we did some niggly bits of paperwork and stuff. Mark the boiler man left in the evening, but actually the new boiler couldn't work till we got an electrician out to do another bit. Very annoying.
I then spent the next three days pretty much in bed, feeling lousy - aching, temperature, miserable - flu. Scott's Mum and Dad dropped the boys off on Friday, and Scott took them all to the ward party on Saturday and church on Sunday without me.
On Nov 3rd I went to Northampton for a meeting, and had a long talk with President Hirst afterwards, which I found really helped with some things I have been wondering about recently.
On Friday 4th, I went with some of the Mums from school for a lovely day out. We went and had breakfast, then shopping in Cath Kidston (got loads of gorgeous Christmas presents), then to a fab old restaurant for lunch - followed by our usual mad rush back to school to pick up all our kids in time!
The next week an electrician came out, and told us it wasn't an electrical problem, so the next day (8th) the boiler man came back out and replaced a part, plus did another job on the system, then finally after over two weeks of no heat, everything worked - HEAT!! Lovely!
On Nov 10th I met up with Tracy, a friend from the older kids' old school. We had breakfast, then went shopping for a new coat for me. Had a great time catching up - she has had a lot of changes in her life recently.
Had a couple of meetings in Northampton the next night, and then on Friday 18th, we took delivery of a large sheet of glass, for a splash-back in our kitchen. With the convention over, I felt like I had a bit of mental space to think about decorating the house. I'd ordered the glass the week before, and had been listening to story tapes while getting the grouting done of the tiles that will go behind the glass. One of these years we will have finished this house...

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Lucy's 14th Birthday

Monday 24th October, 2011.
After present opening, Lucy, Abi and I first of all headed to McDonalds for breakfast (got there just in time!)
After that we made our way to the Guided Bus Park & Ride in St. Ives. My satnav stopped working, and couldn't be fixed, in spite of Abigail's best efforts, and her pleas for help on Facebook... We still managed to make it there (my local geography is rubbish), somehow get the right tickets and catch the right bus (this apparently is quite traumatic with two teenage girls), for a very exciting first trip on the guided bus to Cambridge. We also got a 4th recruit to the back-seat-gang, in the form of a 3 year old boy, who became quite attached to us.
Abigail is very inclusive of me, which is quite nice of a teenager, and we all had a lot of fun.
Us trying on hats in H&M.
We actually managed to see none of the beautiful sights of Cambridge, but spent most the time inside Primark!
After a hard day shopping, and buying most the contents of Primark, we flopped into Cafe Nero for some hot chocolates.
Yes, the girls did buy identical jumpers, necklaces, and cookie monster pants...
...which they then dressed up in, and went out to the Chinese Takeaway in, looking like this:
Lucy receiving yet another text.
We had a lovely evening eating chinese and Ben & Jerry's, and watching films. I think Lucy had a good birthday!
Smores in the back garden the next night.


October seems to have been taken over with planning (and STRESSING - oh - my - goodness -) over the Multi-stake Youth Convention, held on 21st & 22nd. Over 200 teenagers, 60-odd adults, registration, dance, workshops, activities, overnight accommodation, food, last minute changes etc, to help organise...  I put in a few solid 6 hour stints when the kids were at school, on the phone and computer - dealing with upward of 30 emails some days, in the week beforehand.
In the end, it was a truly wonderful event. Everything came together, everyone had somewhere to sleep, the kids loved the Junk Fashion Show, complete with catwalk and DJ, which our Northampton team had come up with, and the highlight was the Devotional and Testimony Meeting at the end. Nearly 2 hours solid of 14-18 year olds coming up one after the other to share their feelings about the gospel. There were very few dry eyes by the end, and the spirit was incredible. Made every second of stress (and I have seriously never felt more stressed in my life), worth it.

Also in October, Harry started swimming lessons after school on Mondays (our first child who has actually wanted them.) He scores 11/10 for enthusiasm and energy, and 2/10 for style (and ability to propel forwards in the water.)
We also got the mud/sand in the front garden levelled, ordered turf and laid it (on 12th), and bought a new people carrier. (Our blue one still had what was left of its exhaust pipe held on with a wire coat hanger, wasn't very economical, had the driver's window propped up with wood, couldn't be locked, except the boot though which couldn't open, Lucy got squirted through the car wall when I turned the lever to wash the back windscreen, seats worn through, not to mention the lack of trim and dent on one side from when I knocked over John's fence post a couple of years ago. I think I'm forgetting a couple of things too.) Amazingly enough, the people we bought our new Chrysler from took it in part exchange!
New grass and car:
On 15th October we went over to Birmingham for a Cryer Family get together, while Scott's Aunty Sue and Uncle Les were over from Canada. It was great to see everyone, and just hang out, play games and chat.

Also in October, I prepared an Auxiliary Training meeting for the ward Young Women Presidents, helped out on a couple of local school visits, had our friends Richard and Jo Blackhurst over for a meal, and had Harry and Tom's parents evenings.
Harry's teacher said that he is popular, sometimes gets too silly, is doing fine with his work, and is an exceptionally good drawer. She said if she goes through a pile of pictures, she can pick his out without seeing any names. She told me to tell him that he is doing really well!
Tom's teacher said that he is good in all his subjects - an all-rounder, and also that she sees him being a good influence on the other children around him, and that Scott and I should be very proud of him.

Sunday 16th was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. Had a meeting in Northampton starting at 7.30am which left me feeling unsettled, then we had some very spiritual talks in Sacrament meeting (instead of the broadcast we were supposed to be having, because the screen fell down). I was with one of my counsellors, and a couple of the Stake YM Presidency, and both of us girls were a bit tearful, but we then had a meeting (more Convention stuff), during which I was tearful again, then we were joined in our meeting with President Hirst, and a visiting member of the 70, who said he felt he should come in and spend some time with us. After hearing from each of us (me = more tears) he then gave us all some counsel, and me some very direct words of encouragement. They then left the meeting, and we continued with our meeting where we discussed what we had learnt. The feelings of friendship amongst us was so strong.

The Youth Convention weekend was the first weekend of the half term. Scott took the boys down to his parents' house, where they had been invited to stay for a few days. On Sunday 23rd October, Lucy and I were wrecked, but very much on a high from the convention. After church the Bleakleys came over and stayed for a while, before going and leaving Abigail with us for a few days. I had looked forward to this time so much! - the convention over, the boys away, Lucy's birthday to enjoy with just herself and Abigail, and the half term holidays!
That evening we went over to my friends, the Blackhursts' farm, for a Harvest Thanksgiving & Hog Roast. It was in one of the big barns, with loads of people, and we really enjoyed it. Considering we thought we'd know hardly anyone, we chatted with loads of people - Tom's teacher from last year, friends from the school, Richard and Jo's families etc. There was also a competition to 'Guess how many tonnes of onions' were in the barn. When Richard announced the winners though, he said the Flinns had won, and I sat there thinking - ooh, I wonder who the other Flinns are?! Then he said for the two Flinn girls to come up, and I realised he was talking about Lucy and Abigail! Lucy and Abigail had won, with their guess (aided by Scott) of 550 tonnes. (Richard was getting mixed up with my Facebook name of Helen Flinn Cryer, Abigail was most pleased that she had been classed as my daughter, and Lucy was glad to have a sister!)

Other stuff in September & The last day of Summer

Other bits and bobs that went on in September... I started an 8 week Yoga class on Friday nights - really love it, and have felt really un-stiff! Also, a PTA meeting (I seem to have become the Art person - doing posters, signs, cakes etc.), a few visits to different wards, meeting with some of the Young Women Presidents, spoke at a Youth Fireside meeting, Elders for tea, Book Club, did a Beehive Forum (12 & 13 yr old girls activity night), had a really useful meeting with Presidents Hirst and Cain, am helping to organise a big multi-stake Youth Convention, and went to Jack's first Parent/Tutor meeting at secondary school. 
His tutor said that he is very confident for a year 7 person, and that he has great potential academically. It was quite funny - his tutor has a different accent and intonation to English, and it sounded as though she was saying good things, but that there was a big 'BUT...' coming, so I kept waiting, and we got to the end, and I realised there was no 'but', and that it had been a really good report!

We had some beautiful weather in September, and then another spell at the very end, going into October.
We had the most lovely day on October 1st. I read on a blanket on the lawn all morning ('The Help'), then decided to weed the vegetable beds, and then the patio, while Scott cut the grass. I felt like it was the last day of what has seemed a long lovely summer, starting with the beautiful weather we had back at Easter. (I know not all my friends agree, but I think we have been lucky with the combination of weather here and in France.)  I wanted to really make the most of it, so Scott went out and bought logs for the fire bowl, and marshmallows and pizza, and we had a chilled out, happy time as a family, soaking in the the last of summer.
(Not sure what Lucy was dong here...)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Another lovely Saturday

Another Saturday which I enjoyed was 24th September, when Harry and I went on the local American Air base, for Harry's friend from church, Jakeb's bowling party. Harry got pretty into it...
...and also fell in love with his bowling shoes, and was really  unhappy about having take them off and leave them behind. He could not understand why he didn't get to keep them.
Before heading home, we stopped off at a nearby town where a quilt show was being held in one of the churches. A friend's mother-in-law told me about it, and one of her quilts was being displayed. Harry was not very impressed when I told him what we were doing, but once inside he was very interested, especially when the lady on the door told him he got to vote for his favourite quilt, and gave him a voting slip. He then carefully examined every quilt in the place, finally coming up with this chicken one as his favourite.
After that, the weather was so mild, and the light so lovely, that we went for a wander by the river. From a bridge, I spotted a free table in a little cafe, so Harry and I went and had cake and a drink, and happily watched the boats go by, and chatted to the couple on the next table, who told Harry about electric boat engines.
It was lovely just to spend time with Harry on his own.
In the evening, we all went over to the Conways, and had a very pleasant evening playing conker games, eating nice soups, and chatting with Anna's friend, Patty, and her husband. I was ridiculously tired though, and pretty much vegged out on the sofa most the evening, enjoying the conversation.

A Saturday Out

Saturday 19th September was a fun day - the younger two boys went to a Primary activity at church in the morning, and Scott, the older two and I went to have a look at progress on Scott's college new build (which sparked a heated debate, as I think it is utterly revolting, and modern-council-estate-tastic and even with exactly the same budget and no architect qualifications, I know I could make it look far nicer, which Scott says is purely a matter of opinion!)
After that we had access to a huge disused airbase site. Scott's college is having a building there, and he wanted to go and see it. The place is used for all sorts of things now - driving training, police dog training, storage of brand new cars, and storage of lots of containers. I loved looking down the huge runways and seeing miles of containers - a really different environment to be in.
After we had picked up the boys, we headed over to Lincoln to spend the afternoon with the Bleakley's, and celebrate Holly's birthday. We pottered in the kitchen preparing lots of lovely food, and just had a great time chatting and being together. Lucy and Abi also evidently had a good time!

Back to school

On Tuesday 6th September, all the kids went back to school. Harry in Year 1, Tom in Year 4, Jack in Year 7, and Lucy in Year 9. Jack was very laid back about starting Secondary School, even though I tried to warn him about getting his head flushed down toilets etc... He was just keen to be there, and not worried in the least. In fact all the kids were happy to be starting back, and we had a really pleasant day. Jack called for his friend Toby, who lives a couple of streets away, to walk to school together. The verdict was he thinks it's great.

Scott is a Seminary Teacher

On Sunday 4th September, Scott joined up with approximately eight 14-18 year old kids from church, on Skype, for his first seminary lesson. (He's on here with one of the Dads trying to sort out some technical problems.) 
Since then he has been teaching 4 lessons a week between 6.30am and 7.15am. This year they are studying the Old Testament. Scott's liking that he is learning a lot, even though Skype has its own challenges as a classroom environment. He also teaches an evening class at the chapel in person, roughly every other week.
I have very nobly donated my sewing table to Scott for Seminary, so that he doesn't need to keep setting up the TV screen (and more recently laptop) each day.

Training Meeting in Watford

After we were back from France a couple of days, on 3rd September, I travelled down to Watford for a training meeting. Bishops and Stake Presidencies had a separate meeting, and Auxiliary Presidents met with Sisters Clayton, Kerr and Kopischke.
What a wonderful experience. After a slightly scary start, when I was asked to conduct the meeting (!), we had a quite informal and personal meeting, with some marvelous training, and discussion.
I spoke with Sister Clayton afterwards too, and she said that it was clear to see why I was called - that I am what the girls need to see, even if I didn't actually do anything, and she shared many other things that left us both in tears. After all the stress and rushing around and busyness of the calling, it was wonderful to feel so spiritually uplifted, and re-focused on what my priorities need to be. The impact of this meeting has really stayed with me.
Afterwards, Bishop Wade, Rebecca Cain and myself had a meal out before travelling home.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Last days of holiday

For our last two full days in France (29th & 30th August), we really wanted to make the most of it, and luckily we had great weather! For anyone who has looked much at this blog before, these pictures will probably look familiar...yes - it's the bouncy castle place again!!
My two little boys flying through the air...
The human tidal wave.
Typical Scott driving.
Mum and Asher at base camp.
My two little boys both flying once again...
We had a family game of golf.
There were some slightly less than orthodox methods on show, including various snooker shots, and Lucy's 'blow it down the hole' technique, which couldn't have been that successful, seeing as she came last.
On our favourite bikes again!
Aftermath of Lucy's quite hilarious crash into the bike stand...
More of Scott's superb driving.
The next day we all headed to the surfing beach. Scott looking the part, with our new skim board.
Mum at the latest base camp.
The boys starting work on a network of sand castles. Dad bought a proper builder's spade with him!
 Ha ha ha!
We waited till the bitter end, as the very last bit of sandcastle was swallowed by the sea.
John had bought a waterproof camera case with him. It kept steaming up, but he got this one of me surfing.
We came away feeling pretty happy, sandy, tired etc. A great day!
First thing on Wednesday 31th August, we headed back for England. This is the bridge at one of the toilet stops. It has a great view, which you can see Le Mont St. Michel from.
We got the high speed ferry back from Le Havre. Harry liked watching from the back.
I was not very happy (as usual) to be going back to England. I don't think any of us were really. Good bye France for another year.